Another day, another tirade of tweets from the President of the United States. A year on from his election, you could argue we’re all a bit desensitized by now, but yesterday’s outburst may have cut rather closer to the bone for onlookers in the UK.
Addressing his 44 million Twitter followers on Wednesday, Donald Trump took to his mobile to retweet three posts by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right activist group, Britain First, which included unverified footage purporting to show murder and assault. The action was notable for its swift and widespread condemnation in the UK with Theresa May issuing a statement that ‘it was wrong for the president to have done this’.
The president’s response, however, far from resolving anything, was a personal rebuke to the prime minister. “Theresa @theresamay, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom,” the US president tweeted yesterday evening. “We are doing just fine!”
This zinger of a response would have been so much slicker had he tweeted the correct person; the ‘@theresamay’ Twitter handle that the president targeted does not in fact belong to Theresa May, the British prime minister, but a woman called Theresa Scrivener. Trump swiftly deleted the tweet and re-typed with the correct twitter handle – surely nobody noticed, right?
Putting aside questions of the president’s ability to manage a social media account, what the episode does reveal is quite how ‘un-special’ the UK-US relationship actually is to Donald Trump. It is not so much the substance of the relationship at stake but a president unwilling to acknowledge his mistakes and unable to prioritise anything beyond his own ego.
Theresa May now has the unenviable task of establishing how deep Anglo-American respect actually runs in the age of Trump. On St Andrews Day of all days, it is worth pointing out that Hebridean mothers and a couple of golf courses can only take you so far in international diplomacy.
Hardline Eurosceptic Conservative MPs could vote against the government’s suspected £50 billion Brexit divorce bill if does not get good trade terms, the party whips have warned the prime minister’s office. Tory members of the Brexit-supporting European Research Group were yesterday demanding a meeting with Julian Smith, the new chief whip, to make clear their frustration over the idea of phased payments that could last many years.
In other Brexit-related news, EU leaders are reported as preparing to offer a two-year transition deal as a solution to the current impasse over the Northern Ireland border in negotiations. In return for Britain tabling proposals to avoid a ‘hard border’ in Ireland, the EU will support plans to speed up approval for transitional arrangements after Britain leaves the EU, meaning a deal could be reached to progress talks before the next summit on December 14-15.
Slobodan Praljak, a former Bosnian Croat political and military leader, killed himself by drinking poison in the dock yesterday, moments after judges upheld his 20-year jail sentence at the final session of the UN Yugoslav tribunal. Praljak, 72, declared that he rejected his conviction, produced a bottle and swallowed its contents. He later died in hospital. Praljak was one of six former military leaders appealing against their convictions in The Hague for crimes against humanity during the Croat-Bosniak War between 1992- and 1995.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
The UK government’s latest round of privatisation of student loans – its largest ever – is set to realise losses of almost £1 billion according to pricing ranges released this week. The loans, which are expected to raise £1.7 billion through securitisation, were estimated to have a face value of £3.7 billion last year and are part of a total £43 billion in loans made to students up to 2012.
Google could be liable to settle a £1 billion claim for millions of iPhone users in the UK following accusations of unlawful information collection. The claim, levelled last night by Richard Lloyd, a former executive director of the consumer watchdog Which?, affects more than 5.4 million people in whose handsets Google is alleged to have embedded coding between 2011 and 2012, tricking software to reveal internet browsing activity for the sale of targeted advertising.
An activist’s vote to remove Donald Brydon, chairman of the London Stock Exchange Group, remained unresolved last night as hedge fund chief Sir Christopher Hohn refused to withdraw his resolutions, promising a response today. Following yesterday’s resignation of the group’s chief executive, Xavier Rolet, its board unanimously accused Hohn, who is a 5% shareholder, of a ‘calculated’ campaign to upset its succession plans, demanding he retract his resolution to fire Brydon immediately. The company will publish a circular today in defense of Brydon who has agreed to step-down by April 2019.
What happened yesterday?
The pound was up yesterday following rumours of a confirmed Brexit divorce bill, meaning the FTSE lagged on reduced values for overseas sales, closing down 0.9% or 67 points lower at 7,393.56.
Housebuilders were lifted by the breakthrough, with Barratt Developments jumping 2.35% at 609 points and Berkeley Developments up 3.64% at 3,842 points. Elsewhere, Cineworld plunged 20% after revealing an ambitious reverse takeover plan to acquire US peer Regal Entertainment.
Earlier in the day, London Stock Exchange Group was among the biggest losers as its chief executive, Xavier Rolet, announced his resignation with immediate effect, culminating a prolonged period of turmoil for the group’s board. Shares later rebounded, ending the day up 0.13%.
The pound climbed 0.63% to a two-month high against the dollar, closing at $1.34, and was 0.58% higher against the euro at €1.13.
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UK Economic Announcements
(00.01) GFK Consumer Confidence
(07.00) Nationwide House Price Index
International Economic Announcements
(07.00) Retail Sales (GER)
(09.00) Unemployment Rate (GER)
(10.00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(13.30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13.30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13.30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
(13.30) Personal Income (US)
(13.30) Personal Spending (US)
(14.45) Chicago PMI (US)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
Writing in the Financial Times, Jean Tirole urges a healthy dose of skepticism towards the recent rise and rise of bitcoin. Tirole suggests that while governments might give sympathetic consideration to the technological advances and improvements to the efficiency of financial transactions represented by the cryptocurrency, they should not detract from economic fundamentals, particularly if another bubble could be on the horizon.
Iain Martin in The Times suggests the government and wider-Leave supporting camp should ignore Remainer demands for further concessions to the single market and customs union in future Brexit negotiations. He suggests their aim is nothing other than to stop or reverse Britain’s departure, and any non-Farage supporting Brexiteer should now rally around the government’s sensible, if belated, financial offer to break the current impasse.
DID YOU KNOW?
St Andrew is not just the patron saint of Scotland. He also represents Greece, Russia, Italy’s Amalfi and Barbados. As well as other countries, he’s the patron saint of singers, spinsters, maidens, fishmongers, fishermen, women wanting to be mothers, gout and – topical enough for late November - sore throats.
The white cross of the Saltire represents the X-shaped cross on which Andrew was crucified on 30 November 60 AD as Jesus’ first disciple.
House of Commons
Transport (including Topical Questions)
Debate on a motion on Treatment of SMEs by RBS Global Restructuring Group – Clive Lewis
Debate on a motion on mental health and suicide with the autism community – Dr Lisa Cameron
Student exchanges after the UK leaves the EU – Victoria Prentis
House of Lords
Supporting young people as partners, leaders and advocates within the global response to HIV - Lord Collins of Highbury
Affect of reductions to the public health grant since 2015–16 on access to sexual health services and HIV prevention services, particularly in London, for (1) men who have sex with men, and (2) people from black and minority ethnic groups - Lord Cashman
Value of local authorities adopting a strategic approach to falls prevention and easing the burden on the health and social care systems - Lord Jordan
European Commission decision to exclude the UK from the European Capitals of Culture programme - The Earl of Clancarty
Impact of the Government’s fiscal policies on the recruitment, retention and conditions of NHS staff - Lord Clark of Windermere
Case for a comprehensive agenda to address regional and national inequalities within the UK - Lord Liddle
Orders and regulations
Renewables Obligation (Amendment) (Energy Intensive Industries) Order 2017 – motion to approve - Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Scotland Act 2016 (Onshore Petroleum) (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2017 – motion to approve - Baroness Vere of Norbiton
First Minister’s Questions
Gourock-Kilcreggan Ferry Service – Jackie Baillie
Stage 1 Debate
Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill – Angela Constance
House of Commons
Legislation (Private Members’ Bills)
Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill - 2nd reading - Afzal Khan
Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill - 2nd reading - Maria Caulfield
Local Authorities (Removal of Council Tax Restrictions) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Tax Rates and Duties (Review) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Local Authorities (Borrowing and Investment) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Principal Local Authorities (Grounds for Abolition) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Green Belt (Protection) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Public Sector Exit Payments (Limitation) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Local Audit (Public Access to Documents) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Sublet Property (Offences) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Speed Limits (England) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Coastal Path (Definition) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Health and Social Care (National Data Guardian) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Peter Bone
Tyres (Buses and Coaches) Bill - 2nd reading - Maria Eagle
Judicial Appointments and Retirements (Age Limits) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Terms of Withdrawal from EU (Referendum) Bill - 2nd reading - Geraint Davies
Representation of the People (Young People's Enfranchisement and Education) Bill - 2nd reading (day 2) - Jim McMahon
Voter Registration (No. 2) Bill - 2nd reading (day 2) - Mr Peter Bone
Registration of Marriage (No. 2) Bill - 2nd reading - Dame Caroline Spelman
Clean Air Bill: Presentation Bill - 2nd reading - Geraint Davies
Parental identification in passports - Tulip Siddiq
House of Lords
No business scheduled
No business scheduled